Whether it’s the media and the stories we are told about the nation, or the senior leadership of just about all our major institutions, pause for a moment and you get the message that the place is still run by a particular section of society, defined by its whiteness (largely male). While almost a quarter of the Australian population has a non-European or Indigenous background, only 3 per cent of the country’s chief executives have such backgrounds.
It’s what explains why too often, white Anglo-Celtic and European Australians feel entitled to determine who truly counts as Australian. Whiteness, thus understood, is systemic and institutional. It’s not necessarily exercised with conscious knowledge. It’s something that operates in the background, part of the unspoken norms and unwritten rules that guide how society operates.
Think Andrew Bolt, KAK (ODT)
Whiteness becomes an active hatred, however, when it’s channelled as anger. When anger is directed at people like Adam Goodes or Yassmin Abdel-Magied — people turned into figures of hate — it’s because some find it intolerable for an Aboriginal Australian or a person of colour to question aspects of the national identity. Hate is when an opinionated member of a minority comes to be regarded as an uppity ingrate who doesn’t know their place.
hate poisons trust. When Pauline Hanson infamously declared in 1996 that Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”, this amounted to a direct assault on people like me and my family. The damage, though, wasn’t confined to how Hanson’s language invited others to label us “gooks” or “slopes”. The feeling of exclusion and humiliation didn’t have to come from outright abuse. Others may have refrained from racist epithets or heated rhetoric, but when they said, “Pauline has a point”, the effect was the same, if not more troubling.